Which came first? Bad posture or weak muscles?
Many people who go to the gym or P.T. believe that they have muscles that need to be strengthened. “My core is weak,” “I have weak abdominals.” “My posture is bad/neck hurts/I can’t sit comfortably for long/I hurt myself because of weak…(fill in the blank)” They think strengthening the weakness will resolve the issue. In the short run, it can sometimes help. But all of the diligence at the gym also increases strain and tension, eventually leading to more discomfort and pain. Then people believe they aren’t doing enough and work even harder, especially if they initially had some relief or success when they started working out. The good news is that fitness training is becoming more whole body oriented, but the common belief is still that effort should always be dialed up, more, more, more. Few seem to be talking about the role of your brain the the coordination of your muscles.
Weak muscles are because of strong habits. Changing a habit is potentially more effective than adding 12 more reps to a workout. In fact, working harder reinforces bad habits. Use the Alexander Technique to learn how to dial down on excess tension in overused muscles, and to move your body more skillfully. Skillful movement will reduce the dynamic of excess tension/weakness. Then you can take your new skill to the gym and work-out smarter.
Love the opening question – very thought provoking – and I like how you highlight that pain and strain often occur and are exacerbated because of how we use ourselves. It’s easy to blame the demands of our environment, harder to take responsibility for our reactions to these demands..